Heading into the 2022 campaign, expectations were high for Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals. But following a poor start, Murray suffering a torn ACL, and head coach Kliff Kingsbury being fired, they finished the season with a 4-13 record. With this finish, they locked themselves into the third overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft.
Following a poor 2022 campaign, the Cardinals attacked the offseason. This included the team finding their head coach of the future in former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.
With the start of free agency, the Cardinals saw several starters move on. This includes young cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. and defensive lineman Zach Allen, who were both key pieces of the defense.
In turn, the Cardinals made several major moves in free agency. With the team looking to get back on track in 2023, they quietly attacked free agency, adding proven veterans on both sides of the ball.
While many of the Cardinals additions aren't flashy names, they are players with high-upside. For a roster that is in need of a veteran presence, these are the sort of moves that felt necessary to make.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Cardinals added five-year NFL veteran Zach Pascal. With DeAndre Hopkins' future with the team still undecided, Pascal could become a safety blanket through the air. Over 81 career games, he has recorded 165 receptions for 2,038 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns.
Pascal spent the 2022 season in a loaded Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver room. While appearing in all 17 games, he recorded just 15 receptions for 150 receiving yards and one touchdown. But in this Cardinals offense that could be desperate for pass catchers, he could once again play a major role.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Cardinals looked to retool the linebacker room. This included adding both Krys Barnes and Josh Woods. But the biggest signing came with the addition of linebacker Kyzir White.
With the team signing Kyzir White to a two-year deal worth up to $10 million, he could look to revitalize the linebacker room. For a team that is in desperate need of an enforcer on that side of the ball, he could be the perfect addition to the defense.
Here is why Kyzir White is the Cardinals sneakiest signing in free agency
In recent seasons, the Cardinals have used early selections in the draft to add speed at the linebacker position. With the eighth overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, they add Isaiah Simmons. During his time at Clemson, Simmons played all over the defense, but since joining the Cardinals, has moved to linebacker.
Just one year after selecting Simmons in the first round, the Cardinals then used another top pick to address linebacker once again. In 2021, they drafted Tulsa's Zaven Collins with the 16th overall pick.
During the 2022 season, the pair of Collins and Simmons combined for 199 total tackles, 16 tackles for loss, six sacks, 13 defended passes, three interceptions, and three forced fumbles.
Both Collins and Simmons have made strides in the right direction, but the Cardinals are still in search of more at linebacker. With the addition of Kyzir White, they could have just that.
Kyzir White, who was selected by the Los Angeles Chargers in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL draft, has developed into one of the NFL's more underrated defenders.
White spent the first four seasons of his career with the Chargers. Over this stretch, he made the move from defensive back to linebacker. After switching positions, he found his footing in Los Angeles. Over 47 games with the team, and 37 starts, he recorded 278 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks 10 defended passes, four interceptions, and two forced fumbles.
Following the 2021 campaign, Kyzir White joined the Philadelphia Eagles for the 2022 season. While on a loaded Eagles defense, White still managed to make an impact. Over 17 games, he recorded 110 total tackles, three tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and seven defended passes. This marked his second straight season reaching triple-digit tackles.
If Kyzir White can once again be a force on the defensive side of the ball, he could help elevate the Cardinals defense in a big way. For a team that has several needs on that side of the ball, his arrival could allow for flexibility, specifically at the top of the draft.
While it is still unknown what the Cardinals will do with the third overall selection, they find themselves in the perfect place to trade down. With several teams in search of a quarterback, Arizona could move down and take the best player on the board.
Before the arrival of Kyzir White, linebacker could have once again been on their radar. Now instead, they could address a different need.
By locking in White on a two-year deal, they have added a player who could be a game-changer on defense on an affordable deal. With the little risk involved, there is high upside with the move.